The latest thing driving the GOP to a tizzy

We’ve had to deal with Republican meltdowns over Obama’s use of teleprompters and Obama’s birth certificate.

What’s next?

President Obama’s use of a mechanical “autopen” to sign the new PATRIOT Act extension from abroad has at least one Republican lawmaker worried about a “dangerous precedent.” According to Rep. Tom Graves (R-GA), using a machine to sign legislation could one day bring about a dystopia in which robotic writing utensils are used to enact all manner of phony legislation.

“I thought it was a joke at first, but the President did, in fact, authorize an autopen to sign the Patriot Act extension into law,” Rep. Tom Graves (R-GA) said in a statement. “Consider the dangerous precedent this sets. Any number of circumstances could arise in the future where the public could question whether or not the president authorized the use of an autopen. For example, if the president is hospitalized and not fully alert, can a group of aggressive Cabinet members interpret a wink or a squeeze of the hand as approval of an autopen signing? I am very concerned about what this means for future presidential orders, whether they be signing bills into law, military orders, or executive orders.”

The autopen was invented in 1804. Graves looks like he’s 30 years old. When I worked in state politics more than 30 years ago, the governor’s office had an autopen. Safe to say the president had an autopen, too. Safe to say a lot of presidents had an autopen before that. And before the autopen, congressman, they had this thing called a rubber stamp done in the form of the politician’s signature.

Are we really going to go through another round of faux outrage from the GOP? Can’t someone just give them a lifetime supply of smelling salts? I’ve never seen a political party succumb to the vapors as much as these guys do.

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Well, no reason to go to Holland anymore

Coffeshop Pick Up The Pieces, Oude Hoogstraat ...

Image via Wikipedia

From Reuters:

The Dutch government on Friday said it would start banning tourists from buying cannabis from “coffee shops” and impose restrictions on Dutch customers by the end of the year.
The Netherlands is well known for having one of Europe’s most liberal soft drug policies that has made its cannabis shops a popular tourist attraction, particularly in Amsterdam.

Backed by the far-right party of anti-immigrant politician Geert Wilders, the coalition government that came into power last year announced plans to curb drug tourism as part of a nationwide program to promote health and fight crime.

“In order to tackle the nuisance and criminality associated with coffee shops and drug trafficking, the open-door policy of coffee shops will end,” the Dutch health and justice ministers wrote in a letter to the country’s parliament on Friday.

Under the new rules, only Dutch residents will be able to sign up as members of cannabis shops.

Dutch customers will have to sign up for at least a year’s membership and each shop would be expected to have only up to 1,500 members, a justice ministry spokesman said.

The policy will roll out in the southern provinces of Limburg, Noord Brabant and Zeeland by the end of the year and the rest of the country next year, the spokesman said.

Amsterdam, home to about 220 coffee shops, is already in the process of closing some in its red light district. Some officials have resisted the measures, saying they will push the soft drug trade underground.

(Just joking with the headline. Holland is a beautiful country. Once they write off the far right, things will return to normal. But the reality is a far right politician in the Netherlands is a Blue Dog Democrat in the U.S.)

Shuffle off to Buffalo

Ecomomists Paul Krugman and Brad DeLong are obsessed with Buffalo. The city, the animal and the verb.

So they busily discuss the merits of the following, grammatically correct sentence.

Buffalo buffalo Buffalo buffalo buffalo buffalo Buffalo buffalo.

It’s hard to read, but think of it in these grammar terms: Adjective noun adjective noun verb verb adjective noun.

And one contributor explains the mathematical foundation for the sentence.

No, you needn’t posit anything about a Buffalo type of buffalo. Any sequence of the word “buffalo” of length n>1 is a grammatical sentence of English. First, let n be odd. We start with n=3: “Buffalo buffalo buffalo”; that is, some buffalo do buffalo buffalo, i.e., some buffalo are buffaloed by buffalo. But of course the buffalo who are buffaloing may themselves be buffaloed by buffalo, so just as some cats that watch mice are chased by dogs, or as we say, cats dogs chase watch mice, buffalo that buffalo buffalo themselves buffalo buffalo, and we can say that buffalo buffalo buffalo buffalo buffalo. Anytime we have the noun buffalo, we can add the relative clause “who are buffaloed by buffalo”, or better, instead of the noun phrase “buffalo who are buffaloed by buffalo”, we may say simply “buffalo that buffalo buffalo”, then add the rest of the sentence, yielding “Buffalo that buffalo buffalo buffalo buffalo”, or even better, “Buffalo buffalo buffalo buffalo buffalo”. To a sentence consisting of n (odd) occurrences of the word, we can produce a sentence of n+2 occurrences. Thus for any odd n, a sequence of n occurrences is a sentence. But just as a dog that chases cats is a dog that chases, buffalo that buffalo some buffalo are buffalo that buffalo, so from one of our sequences of an odd number of occurrences, we can lop off the final direct object, producing a sequence of an even number of occurrences that is a grammatical sentence. For any n>1, odd or even, a sequence of n occurrences of “buffalo” is a grammatical English sentence!

DSK’s house arrest

Dominique Strauss-Kahn is now under house arrest. He couldn’t go to his first digs on the Upper East Side of Manhattan because tenants of that building refused to let him in. Too much publicity. So he found a different place in Tribeca.

The building, which has five bathrooms, is located on a cobblestone street in one of Manhattan’s most posh neighborhoods. It also is close to the courthouse where he will attend hearings….

Security is being managed by Stroz Friedberg, the same company that handled house arrest for the disgraced financier Bernard Madoff. Strauss-Kahn’s agreement is expected to cost him about $200,000 a month.

That doesn’t include rent on his new digs, which were advertised for $50,000 a month in an online listing from Town Residential. Broker Robert Dvorin confirmed the home had recently been rented but declined to comment on the identity of the tenant. It was elsewhere listed for sale at $13,995,000.

The town house includes a state-of-the-art theater, gym, spa and four bathrooms with jetted tubs and steam showers. It was recently renovated “with only the finest materials and craftsmanship,” according to the listing. The living room has an oversized skylight and fireplace. A large terrace includes potted plants, a gas grill and Japanese paper walls for privacy….

Strauss-Kahn, who has no prior criminal record, is monitored by armed guards and wears an electronic bracelet, and his movements are recorded on camera. He will be allowed out for court, doctor’s visits and religious services. Prosecutors must be notified at least six hours before he goes anywhere, and he can’t be out between 10 p.m. and 6 a.m. Under his terms of house arrest, he can receive up to four visitors at a time besides family.

Say it ain’t so! (It ain’t so)

You know what The Onion is, right? A satirical “news” organization that generates fake stories about pretend events. Pretty much takes an issue in the news, then spoofs it to its most insane extreme. Like the story about the GOP resistance to a program designed to stop a killer asteroid heading toward the Earth. Or Obama’s rambling 75,000 word e-mail sent to America at 4:30 in the morning.

Obviously a joke.

So The Onion ran this recently:

TOPEKA, KS—Planned Parenthood announced Tuesday the grand opening of its long-planned $8 billion Abortionplex, a sprawling abortion facility that will allow the organization to terminate unborn lives with an efficiency never before thought possible.

During a press conference, Planned Parenthood president Cecile Richards told reporters that the new state-of-the-art fetus-killing facility located in the nation’s heartland offers quick, easy, in-and-out abortions to all women, and represents a bold reinvention of the group’s long-standing mission and values.

Now that’s totally over the top. So crazy that even if you don’t think it’s funny, you know that it’s not real.

But I give people too much credit. This happened on Facebook after the Abortionplex article ran:

For God’s sake! It says theonion.com right under the headline.

I give up.

Rapture pastor doubles down on the crazy

As expected, the guy who predicted the Rapture would take place last Saturday has doubled down on the crazy. From the Washington Post:

Radio evangelist Harold Camping said in a special broadcast Monday night on his radio program Open Forum that his predicted May 21, 2011 Rapture was “an invisible judgment day“ that he has come to understand as a spiritual, rather than physical event.

“We had all of our dates correct,” Camping insisted, clarifying that he now understands that Christ’s May 21 arrival was “a spiritual coming” ushering in the last five months before the final judgment and destruction.

In an hour and a half broadcast, Camping walked listeners through his numerological timeline, insisting that his teaching has not changed and that the world will still end on October 21, 2011.

“It wont be spiritual on October 21st,” Camping said, adding, “the world is going to be destroyed all together, but it will be very quick.”

I knew he would go for it. It’s actually more elaborate than I thought it would be. An “invisible judgement day.” So, if I get this right, 200 million souls were raptured on Saturday but their bodies were left behind in working order. So there are 200 million zombies out there, waiting for the real End of Days, scheduled for October. I guess they will start eating flesh then, right before the fireball comes.

Good thing the Centers for Disease Control is already on the case:

There are all kinds of emergencies out there that we can prepare for. Take a zombie apocalypse for example. That’s right, I said z-o-m-b-i-e a-p-o-c-a-l-y-p-s-e. You may laugh now, but when it happens you’ll be happy you read this, and hey, maybe you’ll even learn a thing or two about how to prepare for a real emergency.

Yes, this is a real CDC posting. And yes, it is one of the most popular CDC warning messages every placed on the Web. Its servers crashed in the first days of the posting because it got so many hits. And now that Camping has confirmed that we are surrounded by zombies (and he must be one of them, because his soul would have gone up with the others. He does look kind of pasty, doesn’t he?), you’d better put your emergency kit together

Water (1 gallon per person per day)
Food (stock up on non-perishable items that you eat regularly)
Medications (this includes prescription and non-prescription meds)
Tools and Supplies (utility knife, duct tape, battery powered radio, etc.)
Sanitation and Hygiene (household bleach, soap, towels, etc.)
Clothing and Bedding (a change of clothes for each family member and blankets)
Important documents (copies of your driver’s license, passport, and birth certificate to name a few)
First Aid supplies (although you’re a goner if a zombie bites you, you can use these supplies to treat basic cuts and lacerations that you might get during a tornado or hurricane)

Plan your rendezvous points with your family. And don’t get bitten.